Posts Tagged Westport
WCT’s new 2013 / 2014 season opens September 20 – and it promises to be one of our best seasons yet. It’s truly the best entertainment value in Westport at $80 for a five-play subscription (single tickets are only $20, $18 for the Thursday performance and $2 discounts for senior citizens).
With much fanfare:
The Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon
Directed by Lester Colodny
September 20 – October 5, 2013
“Full of humor and intelligence. Fine fun.”- New York Post
“Creates an atmosphere of casual cataclysm, an everyday urban purgatory of copelessness from which laughter seems to be released like vapor from the city’s manholes.”- Time
Mel Edison is an executive who gets laid off from his high-end Manhattan firm. His wife Edna takes a job to tide them over, then she too is sacked. Air pollution is killing his plants, the walls of his apartment are paper-thin, he’s robbed, his psychiatrist dies… and when things can’t seem to get worse, Mel has a nervous breakdown – and it’s the best thing that ever happened to him. Starring Jeff Pliskin, Deborah Burke, Frederic Tisch, Ruth Anne Baumgartner, Jacquie Carlsen, and Maureen Cummings.
We are so pleased to have longtime WCT director Lester Colodny at the helm of this play near and dear to his heart – it is a subject matter he knows very, very well. Lester’s Westport Community Theatre credits span decades, including last year’s season opener “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” – but he is known nationwide as an Emmy-Award-winning writer, producer and director from the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was a co-creator of “The Munsters” and worked on television classics such as “Get Smart,” “My Favorite Martian” and “Beetle Bailey.” In the early 70s, he co-wrote a Broadway play, “Fun City” with Joan Rivers. Later, he went into work in advertising for famed casino chain owner Steve Wynn, winning several CLIOs for his work for the company. To finish out his career, he worked in the eighties for a well-known billionaire New York real estate tycoon. Lester spent his early career working with some of the biggest names in show business, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Brooks, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers, Florence Henderson, Cary Grant and many more. He was writer, producer and director of “The Baja Marimba Band” for which he won his Emmy. He was a writer on “The Today Show” with original host Dave Garroway, when the show was live and mistakes on the set were broadcast nationally. It was Lester who was ordered to get three barrels of monkeys to be opened live on television at the bequest of Garroway. The results were an instant classic and make up the first chapter of his autobiography, “A Funny Thing Happened,” released summer of 2010.
Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge
by Christopher Durang
Directed by Tom Rushen
November 29 – December 15, 2013
If you think you just don’t want to sit through one more production of A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker… mark your calendars for this comedic masterpiece that has become a holiday season staple of theatres across the country. In this sendup of A Christmas Carol, Gladys Cratchit is an angry, stressed-out woman who is sick of Tiny Time, hates her twenty other children, and wants to get drunk and jump off Lnodn Bridge. She meets up with the sassy Ghost of Christmas Past and Ebenezer Scrooge and the plot morphs into parodies of Oliver Twist, The Gift of the Magi and It’s a Wonderful Life. And to make matters worse, Scrooge and Mrs. Bob seem to be kindred souls falling in love. With a dénouement that is two parts Touched by an Angel and one part The Queen of Mean, Scrooge’s tale of redemption and gentle grace is placed squarely on its head.
“A rollicking parody… Splendid.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Fiendishly funny…never disappoints. Wild it most certainly is, without apologies. Send-ups are often immersed in venom, but this one wears an ear-to-ear smile.” — Observer-Reporters
Director Tom Rushen is well known to WCT audiences for past productions including Sabrina and The Importance of Being Earnest, staged readings – and the friendly face you saw in the Box Office during the 2012 / 2013 season. He has directed several plays for Eastbound Theatre in Milford including The Comet of St. Loomis, Lobby Hero, Brooklyn Boy and The Complete History of America (abridged), and is the producer of annual summer one-act play festival jointly produced with Westport Community Theatre. Tom has also directed a number of short plays in the area for SquareWrights (Skeleton Boy, Unintelligent Design, Intervention) and Temple Players (Soldiers of the Lord, An Answer to Their Prayers) as well as productions at other area theatres.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Directed by Richard Mancini
February 7 – 23, 2014
A secret to no one, Arthur Miller’s classic tale of the witchcraft purge in old Salem is both a gripping historical play and a timely parable of contemporary society – the McCarthy hearings. This powerful combination makes The Crucible extremely timely in 2013 – even if you feel you know it well, it’s time to pay it another visit… The story focuses upon a farmer, his wife, and a young servant-girl who maliciously accuses the wife of witchcraft. The farmer brings the girl to court to admit the lie – and it is here that the monstrous course of biogtry and deceit has terrifying consequences. Featuring popular Fairfield County actors Mark Frattaroli and Lucy Babbit.
“Powerful drama…” — New York Times
Director Richard Mancini returns to the WCT stage where his numerous credits include last December’s hit “Old Time Radio Christmas” ETC staged reading, The Woman in Black, The Women, Orson’s Shadow and Broadway Bound among others. Both actor and director, Richard has directed numerous productions at theatres throughout Fairfield County.
Souvenir by Stephen Temperley
Director Ruth Anne Baumgartner
April 11 – 27, 2014
Wealthy eccentric Florence Foster Jenkins suffered under the delusion that she was a great coloratura soprano – when she was, in fact, incapable of producing two consecutive notes in tune. Nevertheless, she gave recitals in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton hotel, and mobs of fans packed her recitals, stuffing handkerchiefs in their mouths to stifle their laughter. The climax of Florence Foster Jenkins’ career was a single concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944…. Actress Priscilla Squires (last seen at WCT in the memorable Master Class) returns to WCT as the irrepresible Jenkins.
“There aren’t many theatrical experiences as good as ‘Souvenir’” — Boston Globe
“…an unexpectedly gentle and affecting comedy.” – New York Times
Ruth Anne Baumgartner (Director) directed WCT productions of Mr Pim Passes By in April of 2013, The Seafarer in December of 2011, and a staged reading of The Seafarer for WCT’s ETC program two years earlier; she directed the Connecticut première of Conor McPherson’s The Weir in 2001 with Town Players of Newtown. For WCT she has also directed productions of Ice Glen, The Glass Menagerie, Spinning Into Butter, and Measure for Measure, as well as several other staged readings. As a director she specializes in 16th-century, other classic, and contemporary drama. She has worked with Town Players of Newtown (most recently the critically acclaimed production of A Picasso, The Retreat from Moscow, The Turn of the Screw, She Stoops to Conquer, Murderers, and The Merry Wives of Windsor); Putney Players (A Perfect Ganesh, “The Fifteen-Minute Hamlet”); Eastbound Theatre (Brilliant Traces); the Rainbow Theatre in Stamford (Equity, The Duck Variations); and, with Rob Pawlikowski, Newtown High School (The Madwoman of Chaillot). She occasionally acts, and will be seen in WCT’s season opener The Prisoner of Second Avenue; prior to that, she appeared in WCT’s Angel Street. She has appeared locally with Town Players (Newtown) and Putney Players (Stratford), portraying three mothers (one a tuba player), two aunts, a Polish cook, a very high priestess, and a lusty widow, and in staged readings for Square One at the Stratford Library. Films include the studio release Of Arms and Altars, student film A Work of Art, and independent film Doing Agatha, in which she plays a middle-aged actress playing a British matron. She is currently serving on the WCT Board of Directors as Editor of The Prompter and President; she is also on the Board of Directors of Town Players of Newtown. A member of the English departments of Fairfield and Central Connecticut State universities, she is also editor of Vanguard (the quarterly newsletter of the Connecticut Conference, American Association of University Professors). For eighteen years she was artistic director of Bare Bones Theater at the Pequot Library, and continues to be active with the library’s annual book sale. Her undergraduate degree, in English literature, is from Dickinson; her graduate degree, also in English literature, from the University of Rochester. At Dickinson she performed and worked backstage with Mermaid Players, under the late David R. Brubaker and Marj Brubaker; she also had two seasons as a local jobber with the summer stock theater Allenberry Playhouse, on the Straw Hat circuit.
Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Mat Young
June 6 – 22, 2013
We close next season with Arcadia, one of the must-see plays produced in the 1990s – many feel it defines the era of playwrighting. Arcadia moves back and forth between 1809 and the present at the elegant estate owned by the Coverly family. In 1809, thirteen year-old Lady Thomasina and her tutor delve into intellectual and romantic issues. Present day scenes depict the Coverly descendants and scholars who are researching a possible scandal at the estate in 1809 involving Lord Byron. This brilliant play explores the nature of truth and time, the difference between classical and romantic temperaments, and the disruptive influence of sex on our lives.
“Pure entertainment for the heart, mind, soul… it is a work shot through with fun, passion and yes, genius.” — The New York Post
“‘Arcadia,’ the play generally regarded as Stoppard’s masterpiece… sparkles – time is magically, heartbreakingly suspended…” – National Post
Director Mat Young is the Artistic Director and founder of Dessert 1st Productions, as well as a director and actor. Mat is also the Host of The Process Podcast, which can be downloaded on iTunes under the same name. Most recently he gave a memorable performance as James Reston in WCT’s 2012 / 2013 season closer Frost / Nixon; he was also seen as Gaston in Piccaso at Lapin Agile (Eastbound Theatre). Last summer Mat appeared as Malvolio in Dessert 1st Production of Twelfth Night (co-produced by WCT as a special summer production). As a director, Mat is most proud of his work with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Jeffery Hatcher (Wilton Playshop), Hamlet (WHS), Romeo and Juliet (WSSP), Taming of the Shrew (WHS) Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Eastbound), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (WSSP), Picasso at Lapin Agile (BHS), Into the Woods (WHS), Guy and Dolls (WHS), Drood (WHS & WSSP), The Complete Works William Shakespeare (Abridged) (WCT). As a writer, Mat has penned Mary Potter and the Race to Nowhere, Musical the Musical, True Twilight Diaries and Suddenly There Came a Tapping. As an actor, some of his favorite roles include: Matt The Complete Works William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Dessert 1st), Aaronow in Glengarry Glen Ross (NHTC) Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Pound Ridge), Sir Toby in Twelfth Night (GSC), Bottom in A Midsummer Nights Dream (NHTC), Matt Friedman in Talley’s Folly (RWU), Aldo in The Italian American Reconciliation (RWU), Jeff in Lobby Hero (Eastbound), Henry 6th in Henry VI Part Three (Marymount Theatre), and Swifty in Words Words Words (Wilton Playshop), where he met his wife. A graduate of The New Actor’s Workshop, he studied under the minds of George Morrison the schools founder, and former theatre department head at Suny Purchase, and film and theater director Mike Nichols. In addition, Mat studied Volia Spolin’s Improvisation for the Theatre with her son Paul Sills, co-founder of The Second City comedy troupe, and creator and original director of the Broadway show Storytheater. Mat had founded three different comedy improvisation troupes; Rhode Island’s Who is Winston Churchill?!, Manhattan’s Hypothetical Playground and Connecticut’s Space Pockets. He has also performed in the films Bullet in the Brain by David Von Acken and A Chubby Kid, which he wrote and was the first project of Dessert 1st Productions.
That’s one of my niece’s sayings. For many years in her childhood and early teens she spent a week to ten days with me in the summer, helping to get my summer show up. She learned to sew hems and buttons, to paint textures, to sponge paint on, to take rehearsal notes, to be “on book” for the actors, and to hold my hand when the amount of work remaining seemed impossible to fit into the tiny amount of time remaining. On opening night she’d smile and say, “It’s a theater miracle!”
The community theater “model” depends heavily on the work of volunteers, and thus depends heavily on the existence of a supply of volunteers. In the late ‘forties, ‘fifties, and ‘sixties, when community theater was in its heyday in the U.S., whole families participated in productions, with daddy on the building crew, the kids helping to manage the stage or run the lights, mommy in the cast…or daddy in the cast, mommy working on costumes, the kids doing gofer work…or any other of a large number of variations. Of course the company would also include retired professionals, college grads with extracurricular theater experience, and people new in town wanting to get involved in the life of the community.
Nowadays we’re looking at a different picture. If the kids have time left over from the organized activities designed to get them into a good college, they want a paying job. Mommy and daddy might also need to use their “extra” time to make some extra money, or their employers may expect more than 40 hours’ work a week from them. College grads and youngish adults who enjoy acting may be doing paid work as film extras or trying to break into professional theater. On top of that, there are more community theaters, at least in this part of Connecticut, than there used to be, so the people with time and energy to volunteer are hot commodities, with companies competing for their help.
That’s why so many community theaters find themselves scrambling for personnel, especially backstage personnel, when production time rolls around. Good designers and crews are hard to find.
I was lucky with The Seafarer to have a truly great set designer, Al Kulcsar. He’s done a lot of sets for shows of mine, and they are always genuine places of habitation for the characters in the play, inviting art works for the audience, and good working environments for the actors. He himself also acts (he’s in The Seafarer!) and directs, so he knows what the needs of a cast and a show are. I also was fortunate to have an offer from Jeff Klein to design lights. Jeff is both experienced and in demand, but what I prize most are his artistic eye and collaborative grace. He was inspired by one of the moments in the play to design a special lighting effect that deepens the emotion and effectiveness of the scene in a way that we could not have otherwise accomplished. And I had a wonderful costumer, in the person of Al’s sister, Mary Kulcsar. We’ve done more shows together than I can count, and it’s always a good experience. Rob Pawlikowski, also in the cast, collected and created necessary sound effects, something he is good at and enjoys. My young neighbor Gregory was also helping me at rehearsals, following the script for the actors and helping to deal with props.
Late in the process Joan Lasprogato stepped in to serve as producer for the show. I often work in tandem with my producer, because I like some of the tasks myself, but it’s great to have somebody good to oversee the whole endeavor, support the cast and me, supplement my efforts in the Props department, and sometimes just be there with a cheerful resourcefulness.
But ten days out, there we were. No Stage Manager. No one to execute Sound and Light cues. No one to run props during the show. Needless to say, those people are really important!
Cindy Hartog, who’s on the WCT Board, contacted me to say she could run props for some of the performances and her husband Marc could run lights and sound for those same performances. She also gave me the name of someone who might be able to do lights and sound for the rehearsals and other performances, Kristian Correa. Paul Lenhart came in and loaded the Sound cues and merged them with the Light cues Jeff had written so that everything could be run from one board, by one operator. Ray Stephens came in for some extra help with the board. Cindy also sent me Rachel Rothman Cohen to fill in on Props at the dress/technical rehearsals. And I woke up in the middle of the night just a few days before opening and exclaimed, “Ward Whipple!” Ward has acted in a few shows with me, and I’ve known him for many years. He had asked, when auditions were being held for The Seafarer, if there was anything I needed help with. Aha. I flew down to the computer and sent him an e-mail. He had never done backstage work before, but he said he’d give it a try. As it turns out, he seems to be a natural Props master, and he was able to fill almost all the gaps in the schedule. And then…we got Bethany Schalow. She was another “find” of Cindy’s. She has a solid theater education, good experience managing stage, and a calm and efficient demeanor. Best of all, she was available for most of our performances, plus our tech rehearsals.
So scant days before opening, I had nobody backstage, and now I have a competent and cooperative crew doing as wonderful a job backstage as my actors are doing onstage. The program had to be printed before many of these people materialized, so I wanted to be sure to celebrate them here.
Believe me, it’s a Theater Miracle.
P.S. Opening weekend went smoothly, with three fine performances presented to enthusiastic audiences and me thrilled in the shadows. Seven performances remain. I really think this is a production not to be missed.
The next production at WCT, Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, opens Thanksgiving weekend and runs three weekends—appropriately, since the play is set on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.
. One of the most suspenseful and important phases of the production is now behind us: auditions.
. I’ve auditioned for roles myself, and I find them harrowing. Surely that’s partly because I audition rarely, take roles rarely, and therefore feel somewhat awkward on a stage. I look around and see actors more experienced, more at ease, and more likely to get cast than I, and lose my nerve. I also have some vision alignment problems that mean I have to keep my nose directly in a script to see it, and I know the director would occasionally like to see my face…. Well, because of my own “issues” as an auditioner, as a director I do try to put auditioners at ease, and give them the same chance at a role I would like to be given if I were in their place. And then sometimes I wonder if the auditioners are more relaxed than I am.
. There’s so much riding on the audition. WHO plays a role has so much influence on HOW it can be played. This is true both for the individual role and for the overall ensemble and the world they can create. I always tell auditioners that I cast to ensemble: that is, how good an actor is individually and “qua actor,” so to speak, is only part of what I’m trying to find out in an audition. How good he or she is for the role, how compatible his or her potential is with my own vision for the play, and how well he or she will complement the rest of the cast and the development of the scenes—these are crucial considerations. Actors tend to feel that if they don’t get a role it’s because the director thought somebody else was a better actor. While that may be so, much more significant is whether somebody else seems better for the role and a better fit with the other actors being chosen for the cast.
. I directed the Connecticut première of McPherson’s The Weir, and I think he really speaks to me. I have since directed staged readings of several other of his plays, including The Seafarer. I saw the production of this play directed by McPherson himself in New York, but I also see this play very clearly in my own mind, and the members of the staged-reading cast confirmed my love for it and my ideas about its direction.
. So when I went into auditions for the production of this play, I was hoping to see some of the actors who had been in the reading. For this play I didn’t pre-cast anyone, but I did make sure that people I was interested in would be auditioning, and I also had some possible choices “pencilled in.” David Brubaker, my brilliant and beloved director back in college, said often that a director who had no casting possibilities in mind had no business choosing a play to begin with, and I agree with him. I was interested in all the actors who auditioned, and their potential for this play, and I did my best to give everyone a fair hearing; but for several of the roles, new auditioners did have candidates to “beat.”
. Most of the actors who auditioned came prepared for the evening, having read all or part of the play, having seen a production of it possibly, having read the audition notice carefully. One of the auditioners had decided only at the last minute to come, though, and since he had not prepared the required Irish accent he chose not to try it. That was a shame, because accents are necessary for this play, and I couldn’t make a casting decision based on the possibility that he could do a good one. Note to anyone auditioning for anyone: come ready to do what the audition announcement has suggested is necessary.
. In the end, I wound up casting three of the five actors who had been in the staged reading of the play with me. To say the other two were also actors I’d worked with before would be somewhat misleading, because most of the auditioners were actors I’d worked with before. Actually three of the actors cast had been in my production of The Weir back in 2001, as well. For a play this intimate, this demanding, and this substantial, I was unlikely to cast someone whose work I didn’t know. I did that once many years ago and nearly destroyed the show: in fact, I had to dismiss the actor from the cast just two days before we opened because he was nowhere near ready to do the part in front of an audience and, in the lead role as he was, would have brought the entire play crashing down. (Another actor went on with a script and was infinitely better. I wish I had had the courage to make the change sooner, for the sake of the other actors who had gamely been trying to develop their scenes with no help from the lead.)
. The offer of a role is the beginning of an adventure that has to be buoyed by mutual courage, mutual work, and mutual trust. I’m confident that I have a cast where that will be the case.
. We’ve had the read-through that begins the rehearsal process, and I enjoyed the camaraderie among the actors, the wonderful interplay of their voices, and McPherson’s natural, funny, painful, beautiful dialogue. I can’t wait to start rehearsals in earnest.
Just in case you missed the excellent article in “The Prompter” – a little background information for “Moonlight and Magnolias”:
From its inception, the film version of Margaret Mitchell’s epic Civil War novel, “Gone With The Wind,” was a monumental undertaking – the biggest, most expensive production Hollywood had ever seen. But filming had hardly begun in the winter of 1939 when producer David O. Selznick suddenly fired the director, George Cukor, and shut production down. It seemed that Selznick was appalled at the initial scenes Cukor had shot. Those closest to the production blamed not the director but the script he was working with, which had been largely crafted (and repeatedly recrafted) by Selznick himself. A hyper-driven, insufferable micro-manager, Selznick meddled in every aspect of production, from the details of the costumes to the art direction and especially the screenplay, firing numerous screenwriters who could not come up with an adapation to his satisfaction, and often rewriting their work himself. (One of the writers he fired was F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose fragile confidence was so damaged by working with Selznick that he afterward entered a downward spiral of drinking and depression.)
Selznick replaced Cukor with Victor Fleming, who was in the middle of directing “The Wizard of Oz”; it was Fleming who had the nerve to tell Selznick that his script was no good (nobody had ever said that to the Boss before), which so surprised and rattled the producer that he called in his old friend Ben Hecht to do an emergency rewrite. Known sardonically as the “Shakespeare of Hollywood,” ex-newspaperman / prolific screenwriter Hecht (“The Front Page”) was working on a Marx Brothers film when he was suddenly called away: At dawn on Sunday, February 20, 1939, David Selznick and director Victor Fleming woke up Hecht to inform him he was on loan from MGM and they spirited him away to the studio to work on Gone with the Wind. It was costing Selznick $50,000 each day the film was on hold waiting for a final screenplay rewrite, and there was no time to waste. The episode that ensued behind closed doors is the basis for Ron Hutchinson’s uproarious comedy “Moonlight and Magnolias,” which opens WCT’s new season in September.
An engaging anecdotal account is described in an article in Atlantic Monthly, “The Making of Gone With The Wind,” by Gavin Lambert (March 1973)*, and by the writer himself in “Ben Hecht: A Biography,” quoted here: “[Hecht] said he hadn’t read the novel but Selznick and director Fleming could not wait for him to read it. They would act out scenes based on Sidney Howard’s original script which needed to be rewritten in a hurry. Hecht wrote, ‘After each scene had been performed and discussed, I sat down at the typewriter and wrote it out. Selznick and Fleming, eager to continue with their acting, kept hurrying me. We worked in this fashion for seven days, putting in eighteen to twenty hours a day. Selznick refused to let us eat lunch, arguing that food would slow us up. He provided bananas and salted peanuts….’” For Irish playwright Hutchinson (who is himself a successful Hollywood screenwriter) the comic potential in such an arrangement was too much to pass up, as he said in an interview (Ron Hutchinson, A Celebration by David G. Anderson): “…it struck me, wow—this is classical farce. Can you imagine? All the elements are there. Three high-powered individuals lock themselves in a room existing on peanuts and bananas, and they are ever mindful that the clock is ticking, in a total pressure cooker situation.”
Selznick’s obsession with minute production details also resonated with Hutchinson’s experience: “The people in the industry are way too worried about the costuming, scenery, casting, and staging. They will have all this in place and then realize, hey—we have to do something with the script. This mess is total garbage. Unfortunately, the script has become a complete after-thought, and there are millions of dollars at stake.” Nevertheless, “Moonlight and Magnolias,” he admits, “was really more of a celebration to correct the image of film’s golden age writers, directors, and producers than an indictment of Hollywood…. Selznick had everything on the line: his fortune, reputation, and his marriage.” At the end of that week in 1939, Hecht emerged from the pressure cooker, took his hefty writing fee, gathered what strength he had and ran for a train to take him home to Chicago. He refused to take credit for the massive fourhour screenplay; credit eventually went to Sidney Howard, along with an Academy Award. The episode seemed to be something he wanted to forget. But what happened in Selznick’s office is, in Hutchinson’s imagination, an hilarious, thought-provoking Hollywood tale of men fighting themselves (and each other) not just for survival but for a chance at immortality. As the playwright says: “Is there an abundance of crazy, driven, slightly off kilter people out here? Yes, and they all want to leave their indelible imprint on the precious celluloid.”
The news today is all good news about our current production, Sabrina Fair – an absolutely charming play with memorable performances from actors who are cast to perfection! The audiences for the first weekend of performances gave the most amazing feedback – in a nutshell, they loved it. And the actors. And the set. And did we mention the play? Tom Rushen is applauded for his excellent directorial eye.
Make no mistake about it, this is what we call an “ensemble” play as no matter the size of the role, every performance is excellent. We’ll start in this posting with three of the principal characters. Actors are always challenged when assuming roles that are widely identified with famous celebrities – it is inevitable that an audience member will remember a favorite film. And we’re proud to say that WCT has overcome that challenge three times this season with our productions of Enter Laughing, Angel Street (“Gaslight”) and now Sabrina Fair.
For Sabrina Fair, the challenge is even greater as it means two films etched into memory over five decades – and a very successful Broadway run. The character of Sabrina Fairchild was beloved, made memorable in film by Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s and then again in the 1990s by Julia Ormond – and yet on Broadway it was Margaret Sullavan’s performance that brought the attention of the world to a new play destined to be a hit.
We are so, so lucky to have Debra Hanusick create this wonderful role in the Westport Community Theatre production – audiences this first weekend have absolutely fallen in love with her. To quote an overused phrase, she has “made it her own” – she is beguiling and sweet, feisty and smart, impetuous and patient, in-depth and frivolous – and absolutely charming. If for no other reason, everyone should see this production to see Debra’s wonderful performance in her WCT debut.
We are so pleased to have Jeff Pliskin return to WCT in the role of Linus Larrabee after a string of hit roles at Curtain Call Theatre in Stamford. His challenge was having no less than Humphrey Bogart and Harrison Ford precede him on film – and Jeff’s superb talent has brought Linus Larrabee to life so convincingly, so intelligently, so sophisticated, so debonair… Linus is a terribly complex role that requires the actor to assume a rich “inner life” and take the audience with him in this endearing story. Jeff has the audience from his first line to his last, and we heard audience members wishing there was more when the play ended. We looked up the definition of “heartthrob”… and…
In this story there are two Larrabee brothers, Linus and David – and they are effectively polar opposites. David is somewhat of a ladies-man. He’s funny. Somewhat care-free. Maybe somewhat care-less… He’s sure of himself, in control and easily infatuated. We are very pleased to welcome Terry LaPolice to the WCT stage as David – an amazing actor who captures the heart and soul of David Larrabee, creating a different version of the character than William Holden or Greg Kinnear played. He shines in his scenes with Sabrina, goes head to head with Linus, is a sympathetic confidant of elder Larrabee family members – and is the epitome of the suave sophistication that the 1950s is so well known for. We looked up the definition of “playboy”… and…
There is much more to follow this week – as previously mentioned, this is a cast of 14 equally talented actors. Based on the reaction to this first weekend, we encourage you to make your reservations early – performances are Thursday, June 9 at 8:00 PM (great after-work outing!), Fridays and Saturdays June 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 8:00 PM, and matinees Sundays June 12 and 19 at 2:00 PM. WCT Box Office is (203) 226-1983.
The cast includes Michelle Blau, Jessica Denes, Andrea Garmun, Debra Hanusick, Terry LaPolice, Manny Lieberman, Andrew Morris, Sue O’Hara, Jeff Pliskin, Brendan Quinn, Tara Reuter, Catherine Samose, Nik Shpilberg and Fred Tisch.